Use Of Science Lab Simulation During A 2-week Virtual Biomedical Research Training Summer Camp For Underserved Minority Youth: A Covid-19 Adjustment
The Maryland Action for Drug Discovery and Pharmaceutical Research (MADDPR) Program provides hands-on lab experience and mentoring to underserved minority high school students. With the inability to conduct an in-person STEM summer camp, the program transitioned to a virtual format in 2020. Thirty-three students and their PLTW teacher participated in live sessions using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra®. One highlight of the sessions was program faculty’s use of interactive simulation software such as science labs (Labster®), animal behavior (Sniffy the Virtual Rat®), and aseptic compounding (Virtual Interactive Clean Room®). Graduate student mentors worked with students in small virtual breakout sessions. Post-session survey data show that the majority of students felt comfortable participating in the simulation sessions. Students’ responses indicated that they enjoyed the virtual labs and appreciated the effort to implement the game-like lab simulation exercises. Remarkably, student ratings of the virtual sessions compared favorably and, in some cases, exceeded those from the same sessions conducted in-person in 2019. In post-camp surveys, 96% of the participants indicated an interest in pursuing careers in pharmacy/other health professions. Student and teacher comments also indicated that the virtual experience of the camp prepared both students and their teacher for the coming fall semester at school.